Hollie Palmer has returned to Brisbane Roar with a new focus and plans to become a more complete midfield player.
The 2021/22 season will be her fifth in Australia’s top flight and her fourth with Brisbane. Palmer’s move to Melbourne City for the previous campaign saw her become a key player in Rado Vidosic’s lineup but the Young Matilda is thrilled to be back at her hometown club.
“I grew up playing my football in Queensland,” says Palmer to Kick360
“Just to have that extra support of my family is an added bonus too, I’m very happy to be back.”
Her time in Melbourne was her first senior season away from Roar, unfortunately, her arrival coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic. Border restrictions and lockdown rules made for unusual challenges.
“It was tough because of the borders so my family couldn’t come down that much,” she reflects,
“They did come down maybe once or twice which was nice, but it is nice being able to see them every day (now)”
It is easy to forget that for all her experience, Palmer is still just 20 years old. She has been a familiar sight and valuable contributor for fans of Brisbane and the A-League Womens.
After coming through the ranks at Roar, she made her debut in 2017, scored her first goal in 2019, and was nominated for Young Footballer of the Year in 2020.
She established herself as a crafty, dangerous playmaker and despite her youth looked right at home in a team filled with senior Matildas.
Palmer’s season at City did not result in finals football but it was not a wasted year.
“I think, to be honest, it was a real eye-opener,” she says of her time with Australia’s most successful club
“It was a learning opportunity and I think i grew from it.
“It did make me realize what direction I want to take with my football and what i want to get out of it.
“I think I did mature as a player. I was able to analyze my strengths and what I need to work on.”
At City, she was designated as one of the attacking midfielders alongside Alex Chidiac.
However, City rarely dominated possession and Palmer discovered a love for a different aspect of the game.
“I just need to continue to develop my game”
“Coming back to Roar now, I have spoken to (Brisbane coach) Garrath McPherson and I do want to take on a more defensive role,
“That’s what I’m aiming for, obviously I’m happy to fit in wherever he needs me, I would be interested in playing as a ‘six’ this year.
“I like to see the whole game. I think with my vision I am able to contribute a lot more to the team when I’ve got the ball at my feet from a deeper position to create more attacking opportunities.”
Palmer is known for her excellent close control, a good passing range and quick vision. So far in her career, these skills have been used to set up goals in the attacking third. But if she is playing in a deeper role, she will invite comparisons with a former Brisbane star and teammate, Elise Kellond-Knight.
She laughs off suggestions that she might be the new “K.K”
“I’ll try and bring my own flair to the game, obviously she’s somebody I look up to but I think I’ll just do what I do and hopefully it’ll help the team out.
“I just need to continue to develop my game, obviously just need to strengthen the things I do as a defensive player.
“I’m a lot smaller than the other girls but, if I can go out there and show that size doesn’t matter I’ll just play with confidence and enjoy myself.”
Although she is following in the illustrious footsteps of Kellond-Knight, she also draws inspiration from another revered Matilda.
“I have looked up to K.K and Aivi Luik a lot.
“I think the way Aivi plays is similar to my game in terms of her vision and the passing game, so I’ll continue to work on that this season.”
Despite her youth, Palmer is now one of the more experienced players in the Brisbane lineup. In a team made up primarily of Queensland locals she is a senior player. The extra responsibility is something she is relishing.
“I am excited, I have been in the A-League Women’s for a couple of years, but I think having new faces in there is exciting because everybody brings something different to the team.
“I think it has allowed other girls to step up as well and experience that, I’m just excited to see how it all goes.”
Brisbane has quietly assembled an impressive midfield for the new season. They might be missing the likes of Tameka Yallop, Leticia Mckenna, and Isobel Dalton but Palmer is excited by her new teammates.
“In the midfield, you have Ayesha Norrie and Rie Kitano. they’re two great players, technically very good and I think with Mini (Katrina Gorry) in there it’ll be a very strong midfield.”
It makes for a versatile squad, particularly if Palmer has added even more to her game.
The Matildas midfield is currently in a re-development stage and with the small matter of the 2023 World Cup approaching, There is a chance that Palmer could be called upon by Tony Gustavsson.
Her inclusion in a Talent ID camp in 2020 is a clue that she is on the radar for the national team selectors.
She is not one to plan too far ahead though, the focus remains on Brisbane and what she can control. Currently she is recovering from an ankle injury but Palmer is eager for her season to start.
“I just want to go out there and play the best I can and continue to improve. Hopefully, that will set me up for whatever’s to come next year or the year after.
“Hopefully I just go out there and perform with Roar this season and the rest can take care of itself.”
Brisbane kicks off thier 2021/22 season away to Perth on December 4th.
Image Source: Melbourne City/Brisbane Roar